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Health Sciences

Custom program developed for Health Science leaders

Health Sciences Leadership Series

A program designed to improve the leadership capabilities and communication skills of Health Sciences faculty members.

Visit the Faculty of Health Sciences website to register.

By Mark Kerr, Senior Communications Officer

Health Sciences faculty members spend years training for their roles as educators, researchers and scholars. In many cases, though, there aren'™t the same opportunities to develop specific skills required for their administrative and managerial duties.

The Office of Faculty Development in the Faculty of Health Sciences aims to change that by collaborating with the Human Resources Department on a new management development program. The Health Sciences Leadership Series will launch this September with the first cohort of 30 participants completing six full-day sessions throughout 2014-15.

"This program is modelled after one that myself and a number of other faculty had the opportunity to take several years ago," says Tony Sanfilippo, Associate Dean, Undergraduate Education, Faculty of Health Sciences. "In retrospect, the content has proven to be highly relevant and practical. The Health Sciences Leadership Series will be invaluable to any faculty members charged with administrative responsibilities or curricular development."

Human Resources designed the program specifically for Health Sciences faculty members. The material will cover challenges, situations and conflicts they will encounter in their day-to-day work. Dr. Sanfilippo says participants will gain a deeper understanding of their leadership capabilities, expand their communication skills, enhance their project management skills, and improve their ability to build relationships both within and outside their department.

The Health Sciences Leadership Series will be invaluable to any faculty members charged with administrative responsibilities or curricular development.

Tony Sanfilippo, Associate Dean, Faculty of Health Sciences.

With the Health Sciences Leadership Series, Queen's Human Resources Department continues to expand its leadership development programming. The department has offered a similar program for non-academic managers since 2009.

"œWe are excited to partner with the Faculty of Health Sciences to extend this valuable leadership training to their faculty members," says Al Orth, Associate Vice-Principal, Human Resources. "We are hopeful that the positive outcomes of this series will result in opportunities to work with other faculties on similar programs in the future."

The series has the added benefit of meeting the accreditation criteria for two professional organizations. It is an accredited group learning activity for the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. The program also meets the accreditation criteria of the College of Family Physicians of Canada.

Online registration is now open with the first session slated to take place Sept. 16. More information is available on the Faculty of Health Sciences website or by contacting Shannon Hill, Learning Development Specialist, Human Resources, at ext. 74175.
 

Access to essential cancer medicines is unequal globally

A new study by researchers from Queen’s University and the World Health Organization assesses the most important cancer medications and their accessibility.

Patients in most countries of the world do not have access to basic cancer medicines, according to new research from Queen’s University's Christopher Booth (Oncology) and collaborators at the World Health Organization (WHO). Their paper, published in The Lancet Oncology, asked oncologists worldwide to list the most important cancer medicines and to describe whether patients could access these medicines in their home country.

Dr. Booth, whose research program explores how cancer care can be optimally delivered in routine practice, become involved in global oncology after taking a sabbatical in India in 2016. Global oncology is a movement that seeks to ensure patients have access to high quality and affordable cancer care regardless of where they live.

For the past few years, Dr. Booth, who is the Canada Research Chair in Population Cancer Care, has served on the WHO essential cancer medicines working group, where they provide advice to the WHO about which cancer medicines should be prioritized by governments and health systems worldwide. Since 1977, the WHO updates and releases an Essential Medicines List (EML) every two years. This list helps policy-makers worldwide prioritize which medicines to provide for patients.

Dr. Christopher Booth, Queen's University professor and Canada Research Chair in Population Cancer Care.

To gather information for the paper, Dr. Booth and his team surveyed 948 frontline cancer doctors from 82 countries to learn which cancer medicines they considered the most important for patient care. The research team found that the most important medicines identified by oncologists are primarily older inexpensive chemotherapy and hormone medicines. With one exception, all of the top 20 high-priority cancer medicines are already included on the EML. Oncologists consider these medicines to be the most important because they have large benefits for patients across many common cancers.

The second major finding was that in most health systems, patients are unable to afford even these basic cancer medicines. In lower/middle-income countries, most patients face major financial barriers to accessing anticancer medications — even the older, generic, and inexpensive chemotherapy drugs. Financial barriers were identified in many high-income countries as well.

“Our research team hopes that these data will highlight the massive problem faced by most patients worldwide who cannot access essential cancer medicines because they are unaffordable,” Dr. Booth says. “The oncology community needs to speak in solidarity and work with health system leaders to change the way in which cancer medicines are purchased and distributed. We can learn from our colleagues in the HIV community who faced similar problems decades ago — through advocacy and by using a variety of policy tools they were able to make HIV medicines more affordable for patients worldwide.”

Dr. Booth hopes this research draws attention to the problem of access. The next step will be to better understand specific barriers to accessing affordable cancer care in each health system. While there are a variety of drug policy tools that can be used to make medicines more affordable, it will take advocacy by oncologists, patients, and the public to make this happen.

“The most surprising, and sobering, finding was that even very old, generic, inexpensive chemotherapy drugs remain out of reach for most patients globally due to cost. This is tragic as many of these medicines have a huge impact on patient survival,” Dr. Booth says. “The oncology community and the general public should not tolerate a system in which the country into which you are born will largely dictate your chances of surviving cancer. We can do better than this.”

For more information, read the article in The Lancet Oncology.

Queen’s remembers William Corbett

The Queen’s community is remembering Dr. William (Bill) Corbett, Professor Emeritus in the Faculty of Health Sciences, who passed away on Aug. 9, 2021 at Arbour Heights Nursing Home in Kingston.

At the age of 17, Dr. Corbett studied medicine at Queen's University (Meds 56). In 1961, Dr. Corbett, with his young family, departed for London, England, where he continued his training for two years at the Post-Graduate Medical School of London and was among the first physicians in Canada to receive training in the application of a then nascent technology, the electron microscope, to pathology.

During this time, he held research fellowships in pathology from both Queen’s and the National Cancer Society. His research earned him a master’s of science from Queen’s in 1962. In 1963, he and his family returned to Canada where Dr. Corbett started his career in the Department of Pathology at Queen's, joining the staff at Hotel Dieu Hospital and later transferring to Kingston General Hospital.

Dr. Corbett taught pathology to generations of Queen’s medical students for 34 years until his retirement in 1996 as a full professor of medicine. He was recognized over the years by the students for his teaching excellence. Dr. Corbett was proud of his contributions to the growth of the department and felt blessed to have worked with so many exceptional colleagues and residents over the years.

“Bill was a superb teacher. He was passionate about hematopathology and highly respected by clinical and pathology colleagues, residents, and all the many laboratory staff who, under Bill's direction, were responsible for the excellent laboratory service provided to Kingston and surrounding area,” writes Dr. Lois Shepherd, Professor Emeritus in the Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine. “Bill was active in the Pathology community regionally, provincially, nationally and internationally with many colleagues and friends from all those areas. When Bill retired in 1996, he left behind a wonderful legacy in Hematopathology at Queen's which has a reputation for collegiality and excellence that persists to this day. I highly valued his mentorship, friendship, and support he provided to me over the 10 years we worked together.”

Dr. Corbett was passionate about his boat, sports car, French wine, colleagues, residents, and trainees alike. He will not soon be forgotten by his loved ones and the Queen’s community he so deeply impacted.

Queen’s remembers Mariana Pradier Silva

Dr. Mariana Pradier Silva
Dr. Mariana Pradier Silva

The Queen’s community is remembering Dr. Mariana Pradier Silva, professor in the Faculty of Health Sciences and Southeastern Ontario Academic Medical Organization physician who passed away on Sept. 4, 2021 in Kingston.

Dr. Silva graduated with her Doctor of Medicine degree from the University of Buenos Aires in 1981 and completed her residency in pediatrics at the University of British Columbia. She joined the Department of Pediatrics at Queen’s University and the medical staff at Hotel Dieu Hospital and Kingston General Hospital (now Kingston Health Sciences Centre) in 1988.

Dr. Silva was one of the earliest recognized specialists in the field of hematology/oncology specifically trained in pediatrics. Upon arriving in Kingston, she began working to create a pediatric hematology/oncology program.

She built a service dedicated to the assessment and care of children with diagnoses of various types of cancer, and hematologic disorders. At the time, the Cancer Centre was located at Kingston General Hospital, and Pediatrics was located at Hotel Dieu Hospital, resulting in challenges to coordination of care and the need to convince hospitals with different missions to jointly build an important service. Dr. Silva worked through these challenges, building bridges between the two institutions and creating effective teams across both sites to care for children. Through her persistence, the Kingston Regional Cancer Centre Ontario formally created a Pediatric Oncology Program in 1995 with Dr. Silva serving as head. A recognized Pediatric Oncology Division was created in 2000.

As the only pediatric hematologist/oncologist in Southeastern Ontario for more than 30 years, Dr. Silva carried an immense clinical load, caring for many of the sickest children in the region. She was “on duty” 24 hours a day, every day of the year. She built teams of professionals that were aligned to pediatric hematology and oncology and fostered their development as clinicians. Her loyalty and dedication to her team members was obvious to all.

"Mariana's dedication was endless — to her patients and families, to the students under her care and to her colleagues. I often joked with her that I'd need to hire three people to do all that she did in a day! She has touched the lives of so many during her incredible career here at Queen's and has left a legacy in the care of children and in the education of future pediatricians," writes Dr. Robert Connelly.

Dr. Silva’s devotion to evidence-based care is evident in the Pediatric Oncology Program today. She aligned the program closely to the work of the Pediatric Oncology Group of Ontario (POGO) and the Children’s Oncology Group (COG) to ensure patients received the best possible care. Her work with COG meant that pediatric oncology patients had access to the latest clinical trials, ensuring excellent care was always available now and into the future. She was involved in more than 150 grants and more than 100 peer reviewed publications in addition to numerous posters, projects, and abstracts. She has been a highly-sought speaker provincially, nationally and internationally, with dozens of invited presentations.

Dr. Silva taught thousands of students, residents, and others. Her teaching style is described by her learners as tough, but fair, and always aimed at ensuring their current and future success. Even the shortest periods of slower activity in the clinic were seen as opportunities to teach, with impromptu lectures, card cases and white board at the ready, and questions geared to challenging learners at all levels. Her skills in resident education saw her appointed Residency Program Director for Pediatrics from 2005-2009, during which she set out to modernize and solidify the program. Her dedication to resident education was recognized by a Professional Association of Residents of Ontario (PARO) Excellence in Clinical Teaching Award in 2009.

Dr. Silva had a remarkable career in pediatrics and pediatric hematology/oncology. Her work ethic was unmatched and her persistence indefatigable. She has left an indelible mark of distinguished and devoted service on the department, forever grateful colleagues and countless patients and families who benefited from her care.

Inuit cancer patients often face difficult decisions without support far from home

Inuit living in their traditional territory must travel long distances — often with no personal support — for specialized health-care services like cancer care, obstetrics and dialysis.

Inuit in the Qikiqtaaluk (Baffin) region must travel long distances south to receive specialized health-care services. (Janet Jull), Author provided

Inuit are resilient. They have demonstrated self-determination and the ability to navigate and adapt to harsh and changing environments.

Inuit live in many locations including urban environments, although most Inuit in Canada live in the traditional territory called Inuit Nunangat. Inuit who live in Inuit Nunangat must travel long distances south to receive specialized health-care services, such as cancer care, obstetrics and dialysis.

They must navigate complex health systems in major urban centres, often with little or no personal support. These circumstances limit the opportunities of Inuit community members to participate in their health decisions.

When people have opportunities to participate with their health-care providers and to share what is important to them in their health decisions, it is called shared decision making. Shared decision making is identified as a high standard of person-centred care, and supports positive health outcomes.

We are members of a team of Inuit and non-Inuit community service providers and academic health-care researchers who are working on a research project we call “Not Deciding Alone.”

A town in a snowy landscape with a plane flying overhead.
For patients from the Qikiqtaaluk (Baffin) region, the journey to receive cancer care involves negotiating a complex health system and travelling thousands of kilometres to large cities in Ontario. (Janet Jull), Author provided

Our focus is on enhancing opportunities for Inuit to participate in decisions about their health care through the shared decision-making model. Our research approach applies the guiding principles of Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit, a system of knowledge and beliefs used to serve the common good through collaborative decision making. Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit are grounded in caring for and respecting others, and are the foundation for a strengths-based approach to promote Inuit self-determination and self-reliance.

Like many First Nations and Métis populations, Inuit face a high and worsening health burden in relation to others across Canada. Ineffective policies perpetuate these health and social inequities.

Research can help people (community members, health-care providers, policy and decision makers) to identify, understand and address health inequities, that is, differences in health that are unnecessary, avoidable and unjust. We aim to build evidence that Inuit can use to improve their experience in the health system.

Learning about the health-care journey

We conducted a study to understand the experiences of Inuit who travel from remote to urban settings for cancer care. For participants in our study from the Qikiqtaaluk (Baffin) region, the journey to receive cancer care involves negotiating complex health systems and travelling thousands of kilometres from very remote geographic areas to large cities in Ontario.

Our study shows that the journey to receive health care consists of a series of connected events that we describe as a “decision chain.” Participants described themselves as directed, with little or no support, and as seeking opportunities to collaborate with others on the journey to receive health care.

There is a travel burden to access health care for people who live in the northern regions of Canada. For many Inuit, decisions about accessing health care also involve decisions about commuting or moving from remote communities to a major urban centre in the south and leaving dependents, their home, employment and other community roles. The alternative is to opt out of treatment.

While all who live in remote areas of Canada are confronted with difficult decisions related to health-care access, the decision-making of Inuit (and other Indigenous people) is further complicated by factors related to health care. These factors include limited community health resources. For example, in some regions of Canada such as Nunavut, there is limited access or a lack of organized cancer screening programs.

As a result, people need to have an awareness of cancer symptoms and act as self-advocates. In addition, they must rely on a local health system that faces challenges of health-care provider recruitment and retention, and high patient caseloads. Many Inuit must also access and navigate health care in their second language, another health-care challenge and barrier to equitable access and uptake of health care.

Indigenous peoples’ history of negative experiences with the health-care system also impact decisions to seek treatment. Inuit have painful memories about the removal of family members for tuberculosis treatment to hospitals and sanatoria located in unknown southern regions of Canada in the 1950–60s. Inuit must also deal with the intergenerational trauma of residential schools

Support on the health-care journey

People who live in remote areas are identified as being at risk to experience stress because, to receive care, they must leave their family and community supports to travel to the location of care. Research with Indigenous populations who live in remote areas shows that health-care systems do not accommodate the context and logistic complexity of health-care access. Inuit have also been identified to be at increased risk of harms during their transition to urban centres.

The recommendations of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Inquiry (MMIWG) call on governments to plan and fund safe, sufficient and readily available transportation in towns and cities with particular consideration of the limited transportation available, especially in fly-in, northern and remote locations.

There is an urgent need to improve opportunities for Inuit to participate in their health decisions. With leadership from Inuit partners, our team is learning how health-care systems can better support collaboration among those who use, deliver and facilitate health care. Inuit need to know that they are not alone on the health-care journey.

We thank the Not Deciding Alone Team for their support and role in the important work that contributed to this article.The Conversation

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Janet Jull, Assistant Professor, School of Rehabilitation Therapy, Queen's University; Inuit Medical Interpreter Team, Ottawa Health Services Network Inc.; Malaya Zehr, Research Manager, School of Rehabilitation Therapy, Queen's University, and Mamisarvik Healing Centre, Tungasuvvingat Inuit, Ottawa.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

The Conversation is seeking new academic contributors. Researchers wishing to write articles should contact Melinda Knox, Associate Director, Research Profile and Initiatives, at knoxm@queensu.ca.

Four health leaders named to Canadian Academy of Health Sciences

Queen’s health scientists and leaders receive one of Canada’s most prestigious academic honours.

Queen’s University administrators and researchers — Jane Philpott, Kieran Moore, Doug Munoz, and John Muscedere — have been elected to the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences (CAHS) Fellowship, one of Canada’s premier academic honours.

Established in 2004, the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences is one of Canada’s national academies, along with the Royal Society of Canada and the Canadian Academy of Engineering. The CAHS informs the government and the public on issues critical to health care and health improvement. Elected individuals are recognized by their peers nationally and internationally for their contributions to the promotion of health sciences.

As world-renowned researchers and leaders in health, the new Queen’s Fellows have been awarded this distinction for their innovative research, leading roles in public health initiatives, and extensive experience in the public health sector. In this work, all have focused on bettering the lives of Canada’s disadvantaged populations through scientific research and the improvement of our nation’s health care systems.

As Fellows, they will continue to make a positive impact on the urgent health concerns of Canadians. Here is some more information on the Queen’s inductees:

 

[Photo of Dr. Jane Philpott]
Dr. Jane Philpott

Jane Philpott (Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences) is an accomplished physician, academic administrator, and a former Canadian politician. She strives to improve the quality of health care, both nationally and internationally, and has an underlying passion to establish “health for all,” not just as a clinician working directly with patients, but through improvements in infrastructure and health policy. She believes that work on equity, diversity, and inclusion in health care begins with health professions education. In addition to building a culture of equity and inclusion in the Faculty of Health Sciences that can serve as a model for other institutions, she is actively working to foster an environment where a diverse cohort of future healthcare professionals can be trained.

 

[Photo of Dr. Kieran Moore]
Dr. Kieran Moore

Kieran Moore (Emergency Medicine, Family Medicine, and Public Health Sciences) was recently named the Chief Medical Officer of Health for Ontario after serving as the Medical Officer of Health for Kingston, Frontenac Lennox & Addington Public Health from 2011-2021. Additionally, Dr. Moore is a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada in Public Health and Preventive Medicine, and Director for the Canadian Lyme Disease Research Network. He is also a Professor of Emergency Medicine, Family Medicine, and Public Health Sciences at Queen’s. Dr. Moore has extensive experience in public health surveillance systems, pre-hospital care, and multidisciplinary research projects. His main areas of interest include evaluation of various data streams for the early detection of outbreaks, and assessment of deprivation distribution in populations.

 

[Photo of Dr. Doug Munoz]
Dr. Doug Munoz

Doug Munoz (Biomedical and Molecular Sciences) is a transformational leader in the field of systems neuroscience, and an ambassador for Canadian neuroscience on the global stage. A Tier I Canada Research Chair in Neuroscience since 2001, his award-winning research on how the brain controls eye movements has led to 200 top-tier highly influential publications. Furthermore, he has translated this work to develop new diagnostic tools for a variety of brain disorders, including Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, bipolar disease, ADHD and many more.

 

[Photo of Dr. John Muscedere]
Dr. John Muscedere

John Muscedere (Critical Care Medicine) is a Professor of Medicine at Queen’s and a critical care physician at Kingston Health Sciences Centre. His career has centered on improving care for critically ill patients through evidence-based changes at the system, regional, and local levels He has extensive experience in clinical research including systematic reviews and meta-analyses, clinical trials, and frailty in critical care. Dr. Muscedere is the Scientific Director for the Canadian Frailty Network (CFN). CFN aims to improve care for frail elderly Canadians through the generation of new knowledge, knowledge mobilization, partnerships and training the next generation of highly qualified personnel.

The new Fellows will join the ranks of other Queen’s CAHS members, including Janet Dancey, Marcia Finlayson, Graeme Smith, Michael Green, Robert Ross, Anne Croy, Susan Cole, Roger Deeley, Stephen Archer, Jacalyn Duffin, John Rudan, Chris Simpson, Elizabeth Eisenhauer, and others.

For more information on the CAHS, visit the website.

After the Paralympics: Initiative to get more Canadians involved in power wheelchair sports

The Conversation: Within the parasport community itself, inclusivity and access is a real issue, especially for those who do not fit the mold of how we think an athlete “should” look or move.

Malaysia’s Chew Wei Lun plays a shot during a gold medal Boccia match at the Tokyo Paralympic Games. Boccia is only one of three summer Paralympic sports where athletes can compete while using a powerchair. (AP Photo/Shuji Kajiyama)
Malaysia’s Chew Wei Lun plays a shot during a gold medal Boccia match at the Tokyo Paralympic Games. Boccia is only one of three summer Paralympic sports where athletes can compete while using a powerchair. (AP Photo/Shuji Kajiyama)

The Tokyo Paralympic Games gave fans the opportunity to witness incredible athletic achievements by Canadian Paralympians. However, within the parasport community itself, inclusivity and access is a real issue, especially for those who don’t fit the mould of how some think an athlete “should” look or move.

The International Paralympic Committee’s (IPC) vision is to foster a more inclusive world through parasport. This is primarily supported through its strategic goal of promoting the Paralympic movement at all levels by encouraging participation in parasports, especially for athletes with high support needs.

But some of these athletes, those who use powerchairs — wheelchairs propelled by electric motors — to play sports, including boccia, powerchair soccer and powerchair hockey, are underrepresented in the Paralympics, and in parasport more broadly. Canada needs to create community-based sport programming for athletes with disabilities, especially those who use powerchairs to train and compete.

Athletes with high support needs

Athletes with high support needs can have a variety of physical, vision and intellectual impairments that require additional support at competitions. Support may involve directly assisting athletes during competition, or with everyday living needs. For example, an athlete with limited hand function may need assistance to load a pistol in a shooting event or get dressed for the day. They may also have a greater degree of physical impairment (such as cerebral palsy or muscular dystrophy) and use powerchairs.

Powerchair sports are played by people with a physical disability who use power wheelchairs. Powerchairs make sport accessible to athletes with greater physical disability and eliminate performance differences usually associated with gender and age.

Because of this, powerchair sports are considered some of the most inclusive sports because they allow athletes of diverse abilities, ages and genders to compete together on one team. Because the use of powerchairs minimizes the impact of impairment on competition, athletes who use a powerchair to compete succeed largely as a result of their sporting ability.

Under-representation

Despite being capable of high-performance international sport competition, athletes with high support needs who use powerchairs are underrepresented. For instance, only about five per cent of the Canadian Paralympic Team are daily powerchair users. Of the 22 sports included in the current summer Paralympics, only boccia, archery and shooting feature athletes who use powerchairs while competing.

Unsurprisingly, the limited opportunities for powerchair-using athletes at the elite level also trickle down to the recreational level. This brings into question whether the IPC will be able to meet its strategic goal, especially when considering the influence of commercial interests.

Scheduled live coverage of the Tokyo Paralympics in Canadian television broadcasts didn’t include boccia, leading to missed opportunities for audiences to appreciate the athleticism of these competitors. (All sports with live feeds are available to be live-streamed or viewed on-demand.)

Wheelchair para-archery athletes pulling the string back on their bows
Emma Rose Ravish, center, of the U.S. competes in the women’s individual recurve-open ranking round of the archery event at the Tokyo Paralympic Games. (AP Photo/Shuji Kajiyama)

Marketability and media exposure

Previous research suggests athletes with high support needs receive less media coverage because their performances are not considered “esthetically pleasing.” These perceptions also affect audience recognition of the performances as being elite or high-level.

Assigning value to parasport performances based on marketability perpetuates a lack of inclusion. It also affects the amount of exposure certain parasports get, which in turn limits access to financial resources.

If the media provided greater exposure to athletes with high support needs, it could broaden the general public’s perceptions of what elite sport performance looks like. It could also result in more parasports gaining access to the social and economic capital needed to grow their sport and develop athletes.

Corporate sponsors and the media can minimize concerns that it’s risky to push parasports that feature athletes with high support needs. The IPC could embrace more sports that include athletes who use powerchairs, by wielding financial and social influence to spotlight athlete accomplishments.

Changing perceptions of elite athletes

We need to reimagine our perception of athletes beyond the mainstream understanding of sports. Highlighting the talent of athletes who compete using powerchairs may challenge the societal prejudices that contribute to the marginalization of people with complex disabilities.Participation in sport offers physical, social and psychological benefits for children, youth and adults with disability. Yet powerchair sport is not widely available in Canada, and research to inform program development is lacking. Tailored powerchair sport programming is sorely needed to create opportunities for quality participation among high support needs athletes.

Recreational programs are the way forward

Canada has powerchair sport programs for international-level competition, but it lacks the recreational programs needed to foster interest, engagement and athlete development. Creating more parasport opportunities for people who use powerchairs will give more Canadians the chance to participate in sports while fostering the development of those who aspire to compete internationally.

To address this need, our research team has partnered with the Canadian Paralympic Committee, Ontario Parasport Collective, PowerHockey Canada and other stakeholders to close the gaps in community-based sport programming for athletes with disabilities, especially those who use powerchairs. We are working to develop a resource guide for building high quality powerchair sport programs and aim to use this guide to establish programs in communities of 50,000 people or more.

In order to build long-lasting programs, we must meaningfully collaborate with the communities the programs are intended to serve, so we have adopted integrated knowledge translation principles for this project. These principles make sure our research is conducted as ethically as possible. Over the next several months, we plan to speak with members of the powerchair sport community and community-based organizations interested in offering powerchair sport opportunities. This collaboration will transform the landscape of powerchair sport in Canada.

Paul Desaulniers of PowerHockey Canada co-authored this article.The Conversation

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Jordan Herbison, Post-Doctoral Fellow, Queen's University, Ontario and Amy Latimer-Cheung, Professor, School of Kinesiology, Queen's University, Ontario

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

The Conversation is seeking new academic contributors. Researchers wishing to write articles should contact Melinda Knox, Associate Director, Research Profile and Initiatives, at knoxm@queensu.ca.

Decoding COVID-19

Queen's researchers are leading Canadian efforts to better understand the virus through genomics.

Dr. Maslove looks to uncover the secrets of our DNA and what they can tell us  about how our bodies respond to COVID-19.Credit: Kingston Health Sciences Centre
Dr. David Maslove (Medicine and Critical Care Medicine). Photo credit: Kingston Health Sciences Centre

Over the course of the pandemic, there has been one question about the COVID-19 virus that continues to resurface. Why does the virus seem to randomly affect certain patients more than others? Researchers at Queen's and Kingston Health Sciences Centre (KHSC) are leading the Canadian effort to find out; and the answer may lay in our DNA.

"At a high-level, the medical community has always wondered why some people get sick with certain types of infections and end up in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and others don’t. The pandemic gave us an opportunity to look into this further," says KHSC intensive care specialist and Queen’s University Associate Professor David Maslove.

So the study set out to determine why some people in the early stages of the pandemic seemingly contracted COVID-19 and suffered only mild symptoms, while others, many who were young and in generally good health ended up in the ICU on a ventilator.

“When COVID patients come into ICU, we take one tube of blood and send it to Sick Kids Hospital to sequence the patient’s entire genome in their laboratory,” Dr. Maslove says. “So far, the GenOMICC study has shown that critical illness from COVID is associated with certain genetic traits. This gives us a better understanding of the disease. If we can learn about how the body is responding, we could learn how to better treat, or prevent people from getting severe COVID.”

With startup funding from the Southeastern Ontario Academic Medical Organization (SEAMO), Canada became the first country to export the GenOMICC study outside of the United Kingdom, where it was started by Dr. Kenneth Baillie.

So far, more than 10,000 patients have been recruited around the world, with a goal of recruiting 100,000 in total. Nearly 100 patient participants have been recruited through KHSC, and the team has initiated further participation of close to 300 patients in Ontario. Currently teams in the United States, Australia, China and India are in the process of setting themselves up to begin recruiting patients.

The Queen's and KHSC team, including Hematopathologist Michael Rauh (Pathology and Molecular Medicine, Queen's Cancer Research Institute), is now currently reviewing the data from the fully sequenced genomes of patients from 2020. The sequencing of more recent patient participants is now underway.

“We hope to carry the research forward after the pandemic, so when someone comes to the ICU with something odd or unexplained we can take a tube of blood and do this work to better understand why they are sick,” says Dr. Maslove. “ICUs are the canary in the coal mine. Infections or diseases are seen in the ICU early, and from a public health perspective we could have a better network to identify trends earlier in future pandemics.”

This article originally appeared in KHSC Connect.

Reimagining the perception of a parasport athlete

Queen’s University-led project works to expand opportunities for adaptive sports across Canada

PowerHockey Canada athletes compete in recent tournament. Photo courtesy of PowerHockey Canada
Members of Canada's PowerHockey Team. (Photo Courtesy PowerHockey Canada) 

With the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games now underway, a leading researcher from Queen’s says it is time to reimagine what we think of an athlete, and to create opportunities for athletes of all body types and skill levels.

Amy Latimer-Cheung (Kinesiology and Health Studies) is leading a multi-year research project funded by Mitacs, examining inclusivity in sport. The goal is to build a safe, welcoming, and inclusive environment for Canadian parasport athletes.

“As Canadians, we have an image of what an athlete should look like and how they should move,” says Dr. Latimer-Cheung, who is also the Canada Research Chair in Physical Activity Promotion and Disability. “Often, someone living with a high level of disability doesn’t fit this mold. As a result, opportunities, and spotlight, like the Paralympics pass over them.”

Dr. Latimer-Cheung believes one of the reasons for the lack of inclusivity is there are fewer opportunities for athletes with a high level of disability to participate.

“Many of the sports showcased in the Paralympics, currently, just aren’t suitable for athletes with certain disabilities,” she says.

The research effort will engage seven Mitacs research interns from Queen’s University and Western University in multiple projects over the next two years — and involves interviewing individuals living with disability, including Paralympians themselves, to better identify solutions to create opportunity for participation.

The research team is also partnering with the Canadian Paralympic Committee, Ontario Parasport Collective, PowerHockey Canada and other stakeholders to close the gaps in community-based sport programming for athletes with disability.

“Mitacs-funded research aims to change the landscape,” Dr. Latimer-Cheung says. “We are striving to increase the number of opportunities in diverse communities and the quality of these opportunities for athletes with lived experience of disability.”

One area that is particularly under-represented in Canada is powerchair sport. Jordan Herbison, Mitacs intern and postdoctoral research fellow at Queen’s and McGill University, is working with PowerHockey Canada and community partners to build a more inclusive and high-quality powerchair program in Canada, starting with Ontario. His research, including interviews with and survey of athletes and sport administrators, will form the basis for an inclusive “playbook” aimed at giving community program providers the tools and knowledge they need to create more opportunities for people who use powerchairs, and to ensure a positive experience.

“I believe in the power of sport to positively impact people’s lives and that everyone who wants to, should have the opportunity to experience the benefits of sport,” says Dr. Herbison.

Tokyo Paralympics
The 2020 Paralympic Games are being held Aug. 24-Sept. 5, 2021 and features 128 Canadian athletes.

Another project, led by Mitacs intern and Queen’s  Master’s student Alyssa Grimes, is aiming to develop standardized training that any sport organization can use to attract and retain new volunteers, since many parasport programs rely on volunteers to run.

“We know lack of available volunteers is a major barrier to program access,” Dr. Latimer-Cheung says. “If we can help to create a high-quality volunteer experience, the hope is they will be more engaged and it will ignite a passion to continue to support parasport longer term.”

For information about Mitacs and its programs, visit mitacs.ca/newsroom.

Funding provides leading-edge technological resources to researchers

Ten researchers at Queen’s University receive funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation John R. Evans Leaders Fund.

Queen’s University has been awarded over $1.1 million in funding in the latest round of the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) John R. Evans Leaders Fund (JELF). The money will help fund nine projects at the university.

The John R. Evans Leaders Fund helps exceptional researchers at universities across the country conduct leading-edge research by giving them the tools and equipment they need to become leaders in their fields. The Government of Canada recently announced $77 million in funding for 332 research infrastructure projects at 50 universities across Canada.

The funding for Queen’s will help support research in a range of areas, including robotics, architecture and technology, energy conversion and storage, and ocular health.

"For almost 25 years, the CFI has helped create the conditions that allow researchers to accelerate discovery and innovation," says Nancy Ross, Vice-Principal (Research). "I thank the CFI for their support, I congratulate the researchers on their success, and I look forward to watching their projects unfold."

The projects receiving funding are:

  • Cao Thang Dinh (Chemical Engineering) - Electrochemical CO2 Conversion to Fuels and Chemicals, $125,000
  • Matthew Reeve and Norman Vorano (Art History) – Mobarch: Mobile Laboratory for the Study of the Built Environment, $100,000
  • Dixia Fan (Mechanical and Materials Engineering) - Intelligent Water Flume, an AI/ML-Enhanced Fluid Experiment Platform for Exploration and Exploitation on Flow Physics, $125,000
  • Majid Pahlevani (Electrical and Computer Engineering) - Supercapacitors: The Future of Energy Storage, $125,000
  • Nahee Park (Physics, Engineering Physics and Astronomy) - Cosmic-Ray and Neutrino Detector Development for the Future, $165,000
  • Matthew Robertson (Mechanical and Materials Engineering) - Multi-Material Robotics Research (M2R2) Lab, $125,000
  • Nir Rotenberg (Physics, Engineering Physics and Astronomy) - Active Quantum Photonic Technology, $150,000
  • Sara Nabil (School of Computing) - Interactive Architecture and Smart Environments, $150,000
  • Jacob Rullo (Ophthalmology; Biomedical and Molecular Sciences) - 1,25 Hydroxyvitamin D3 Metabolism in the Eye: A Regulator of Normal Ocular Physiology and Pathological Disease, $100,000

For more information on the program and for a full list of funded projects, visit the Canada Foundation for Innovation.

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